Archive for August, 2010

The Making of Glinda

Posted: August 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m playing Glinda in a burlesque version of The Wizard of Oz, called Friends of Dorothy. I was totally pschyed to do the show, but I didn’t have much time or money to make a costume. And I definitely didn’t have time to “find my character” before making the costume.

Normally, when I’m doing a previously created character, I copy the costume religiously. But this is supposed to be sort of a wacky, crazy, spin on the original. But I wasn’t sure *how* crazy. And when you’re playing a character that people have known and loved all their lives, there are certain things they expect. You can’t do Dorothy *without* pigtails and blue gingham. You can’t do scarecrow without some patchworkyness. Glinda I wasn’t sure about. Pink was a must, but I wasn’t sure what else. Would people be disappointed if my dress wasn’t big and flouncy? If I didn’t have giant sleeves? And if it was big, pink, flouncy, with giant sleeves, wouldn’t I just pretty much be copying the original dress? Also, wouldn’t that be damn expensive?
I did some searching around for inspiration and settled on two looks that I wanted to find some middle ground between.

An awesome hybrid of This:

And This:

I also had some Paniers that I was pretty sure would be involved.

So I dug through my patterns and started brainstorming

I wasn’t really excited about any of these designs so it was off to the Salvation Army!

Thrift store shopping is part perseverance, part training (I’ve been shopping with my mom for costumes pretty much my whole life, so I’ve got a good eye) and mostly The Fickle Hand Of Fate. I was on my way home, trying to figure out my costume, and a little voice said “Go check the Salvation Army.” Luckily there’s one on my way home.

It’s in a pretty working class neighborhood so it’s rare that I find anything too fancy there but I went straight to the gown area and noticed a pretty sizeable wedding section. Awesome. I found this behemoth of a bridesmaids dress:
On the hanger it didn’t look like much. But it was pink. and Froofy. and had some really nice trim
and these crazy awesome sleeves

BUT! It was $30. Which is way more than I want to spend on a dress that’s only maybe useful. If it were perfect then *maybe* I’d spend $30 on it. Yeah, I’m cheap.
I almost left the store in defeat but once again that little voice said “Check the sign at the front that says which color tags are on sale.”
I love you, little voice.

And, lo, the dress was half off. And I happily took this colossal pink gunnesax insanity back home with me.

The first thing I learned was that any bland dress can be made much more awesome by the judicious application of paniers
This wondergarment will take any lame full skirted dress and make it remarkable, if only by nature of it being three feet wide. Mine was a lucky hand-me-down from a costume shop my mother worked in. I’m reliably well informed that a reasonable facsimile can be made with Easter baskets.

In a pinch, they can be used to help make shelter for a cat
Seriously, how cute is that?

Anyway, I had to figure out what to change. Actually seeing it on a dress form was immensely helpful. It was too big in the bust and the low waist wasn’t doing me any favors. I also had to take it off in an interesting way.
Alterations proved more difficult than originally expected. These things are very well made and have, like three layers of fabric to contend with. So I removed the skirt completely and tore the whole damn bodice apart with a seam ripper. It was a bloody massacre.
I think the skirt grew while it was free. It’s like The Blob in skirt form.

Eventually I pinned the whole thing into submission and sewed it back together.

I put a separating zipper in the back of the bodice (as a side note, why the hell is it impossible to find a 13 inch zipper?) and snap tape along the bottom of the bodice and top and back of the skirt. So the skirt can come off in one fell swoop and the bodice will come off easily.


But what about the Gaga inspiration? That’s a great big flouncy dress but where’s the crazy hoops and shit?

Well, kids, that’s the great thing about burlesque. You don’t just have one costume. You have costumes over costumes over pasties. Those costumes will be forthcoming. Just you wait.